THE GROTTO by Coral Lansbury


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High-grade romantic fiction about a woman searching for a love to rival her parents'--from the author of Felicity (1987) and Ringamara (1986). ""There is a special curse on the child of a great love,"" muses Gwen Harcourt de Marineo, and she should know. She's the neglected daughter of an English mother and a Sicilian father, both archeologists who fell madly in love late in life. Gwen grows up in Sicily in the 1920's, watching Mom and Dad grow old and more besotted with each other by the moment--while she's left to work in a local hotel and play with the children of the vacationing English rich, and with her fey and eccentric cousin Dolfi. Finally, after her parents die--mother from a stroke, father beaten savagely by fascists--Gwen becomes pregnant by a local Sicilian boy. After much maneuvering by his enraged family, Gwen is actually married off by proxy to the boy's brother, Gicacopo, in woman-starved Australia--and put on the boat. She manages to perform a gruesome abortion on herself, though, and in any event the brother is dead by the time she arrives. The now determined (and quite beautiful) young woman sets herself up in the hotel business in Sydney, and becomes a wealthy celebrity--even branching out into show biz with cousin Dolfi, now a blusteringly macho comedian. But Gwen wants a true love like her parents'. Who will it be? Kurt Stein, a melancholy Jewish refugee from Austria? Beau Liddel, drunken but rakish Aussie millionaire? Or Alan Gilchrist, famous barrister? A big (535 pp.) novel for the romantic's romantic--filled with tears, betrayal, melodrama, sex, and even (yikes) happiness.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Publisher: Knopf